MX Player’s Karan Bedi on how premium AVoD presents a significant opportunity for its business

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November 13, 2020 7:21 AM

More than half the consumption on the platform is driven by MX Originals and content exclusive to the platform

Video remains the core of the company’s OTT offerings with 200 million MAUs in India, Karan Bedi, CEO, MX PlayerVideo remains the core of the company’s OTT offerings with 200 million MAUs in India, Karan Bedi, CEO, MX Player

In less than two years, OTT platform MX Player has diversified into music, gaming and short-format video businesses. Karan Bedi talks to Venkata Susmita Biswas about tapping the TikTok void with MX Taka Tak, focussing on an advertising-led revenue model for the OTT platform, plans for the gaming vertical, and more.

Which of your verticals brings in most users and advertising revenue?

Video remains the core of our OTT offerings with 200 million MAUs in India. However, over the last few months, both gaming and MX Taka Tak, which we have just begun monetising, have grown rapidly. With MX Taka Tak, we can now offer brands the ‘everytainment pack’ — through a single campaign they can target a user at different parts of the day on various MX Player verticals. For instance, if a brand wishes to target males in the age group of 18-25 with an interest in automobiles, we can serve the user an audio jingle in his music stream, a rewarded ad within a game, a video ad or a camera filter through our short-video format app.

We have close to 100 games on MX Player, and have opened the platform to game developers — more than half the games are now from game publishers. So, our games will quickly scale up and we will have thousands of games on the platform. We don’t plan to move into hard-core games, but will expand into mid-core games in the future.

The lockdown boosted consumption on video OTT platforms. Isn’t this a good time to try SVoD?

International video streaming platforms that are SVoD-only predominantly have content with an international flavour, and cater to English-speaking audiences. Here, content is targeted at the top 2-3% of the country’s audiences. We are catering to the majority of India’s youth, who are looking for content beyond television. We are the only one providing fresh premium content sans subscription fees. We believe that this is a significant business opportunity for us, as advertisers are very keen on reaching out to the audience that comes to our platform.

Is advertising revenue back on track for MX Player?

At the beginning of the lockdown, there was a lot of nervousness about advertising spends. However, within 10 days of the lockdown coming into effect, we began noticing a huge spike in our app usage. Generally, spends on digital move very slowly, but this year, media planners and buyers had the freedom to move large chunks of ad budgets to digital as compared to previous years. By mid-May, revenue started following the same upward trajectory as usage. Now, we have exceeded our targets for the year and have done twice as well as last year.

What is the flavour of the content served on the platform? Are originals a big draw?

More than half the consumption on our platform is driven by MX Originals and content exclusive to our platform. We have about 60 originals now. We have experimented with genres across crime, thrillers, office dramas and relationship dramas. One category where we are strong is international content dubbed in Hindi. We have a lot of Korean and Latin American content that we have dubbed into Hindi. Besides, we have tie-ups with other OTT platforms, which gives them the reach that is beyond their own platforms and adds to our library.

How are you wooing former TikTok users and content creators to try MX Taka Tak?

Although several new apps were launched in India initially when TikTok was banned, the competition now is between two-three apps. MX Player had a remarkably high overlap with TikTok in terms of user base. Lending the ‘MX’ brand name to our short-video app was to pass on the brand equity accrued by MX Player to MX Taka Tak. This also ensured that our user acquisition cost was low.

Content creators who thrive on massive following were reassured that our app could give them the reach they were seeking. At present, we have more than 60% of the top 100 TikTok content creators on our platform. We are providing content creators the gateway to acting in a web series. Some of our influencers have already been cast in MX Player web shows. Further, we have invested in a strong content recommendation algorithm.

Read Also: How brands can reinvent engagement with consumers in a socially distant world

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